As access to top deals becomes more competitive, venture capital firms are creating new roles to attract top entrepreneurs. Now, in addition to recruiting top dealmakers, firms are bringing in culture experts and allocating roles to individuals who better understand and empathize with the founder journey.
In keeping with this trend, Redpoint Ventures, a venture capital firm with roots in Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Road, has hired a partner and its first-ever “head of founder experience.” Travis Bryant, who joined the firm one year ago as an entrepreneur-in-residence, will be focused on how founders perceive the Redpoint brand, ensuring each individual moment a founder spends with the firm is as founder-friendly as possible.
Historically, VC firms hired investment partners to network, invest in companies and help foster those companies’ growth over a years-long period. Increasingly, these same firms are identifying new talent to provide to founders more attention, resources and support through the company-building process as a means to win access to top deals.
Earlier this month, True Ventures hired its first-ever vice president of culture, Madeline Kolbe Saltzman, who explained she would be guiding “the company and the founder to being the best they can be.” Bryant, for his part, will have a host of responsibilities, including supporting existing programs and services tailored to the needs of portfolio founders, and even remodeling the office to create a better “flow” for founders. Basically, Bryant will think through all the ways Redpoint can leave a positive, lasting impression on the companies it invests in and even the companies it rejects.
“The founder is the center of the solar system,” Bryant tells TechCrunch. “It’s not about them coming to pitch us. It’s how do we help them develop their idea and how do we give them the confidence to get it out in the world.”
One might have thought venture capitalists would steer away from the cult of the founder mentality amid the WeWork saga of 2019. Arguably, tech-founder worship allowed WeWork to garner a baseless $47 billion valuation as a result of the billions in equity funding its founder used to purchase a private jet, make several poorly thought-out acquisitions and commit other irresponsible acts that resulted in a delayed initial public offering, hundreds of layoffs and more to come.
Redpoint’s latest hire, if anything, suggests tech-founder worship is far from being erased. To that point, Bryant says his role is less about the founder and more about creating an environment that fosters more human-to-human relationships, bidding adieu to the traditional startup-VC dynamic.
“In the past, a founder might have just wanted to work with a VC because of their prior performance with a goal to just get money, but now it’s money-plus-plus,” Bryant said. “What are you going to do actively? What can you do to help them cross this chasm and get their idea out and make it successful.”
“The expectation of investors is much more significant,” Bryant added. “It’s not about writing a check and hoping to turn that check into something. It’s about adding value.”